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A land manager's guide to conserving habitat for forest birds in ...

A land manager's guide to conserving habitat for forest birds in ...

Downed woody debris —

Downed woody debris — Photo: Ken Elliott Methods to maintain or develop old growth features in managed stands 1) Forests of great age — uncut patches of legacy trees and tracts of old and older growth forest • retain entire uncut patches or stands with a diversity of species, sizes, and quality; including snags and cavity trees • provide for future old growth by maintaining snags, downed woody debris, and permanent patches of legacy trees adjacent to existing old growth features 2) Trees of marketable value — larger and older living trees • maintain some basal area of large and extra large healthy trees that will survive over the long term • in sites with old growth potential or features, retain higher basal area target of 24–27 m²/ha • target 1–2 trees/ha to retain and allow to grow beyond 80 cm diameter at breast height (dbh) • increase growth of some of the large, healthy trees by allowing for full or partial crown release of longer lived tall tree species such as white oak, sugar maple, and white pine over early successional species such as birch and poplar • look to retain trees with potential to become supercanopy trees 3) Broken canopy structure — increased diversity of tree sizes and ages • harvest small groups or single trees • repeat on an 8–15 year cycle to increase diversity of ages • log carefully to avoid damaging small trees 4) Downed logs — increased amount of decaying large logs and woody debris on the ground • do not remove or destroy existing fallen trees, branches, stumps, or snags felled during logging • select unhealthy large and medium trees to fell and leave on the ground 5) Standing snags and cavity trees — greater number of large standing dead trees • maintain as many cavity trees and snags as possible • harvest only those standing dead trees that are a safety hazard • where snags are felled, leave these on site to operate as downed logs • where safe, create snags through girdling selected medium and large trees 6) Treefall gaps — canopy gaps of varying size and tree density across woodland • create both small and large gaps (up to one hectare in size), using group selection for larger woodlands to mimic natural patchiness of older growth conditions • thin between gaps using single tree selection to maintain a basal area of 22–24 m 2 /ha to mimic the dominant disturbance of single tree fall gaps 7) Pit and mound topography — maintain natural diversity of forest floor attributes • allow for dead and dying trees to fall naturally and become uprooted, creating the pit and mound formation common to old growth sites • these pits and mounds give the forest floor a rugged appearance and provide a great diversity of moisture conditions 8) Undisturbed soils — protect thick organic soils • reduce the use of heavy logging equipment in sensitive areas to avoid heavy soil compaction • confine logging in wet areas to frozen ground conditions when the ground is less prone to damage 9) Diversity of plants and animals — keep what you have • retain and protect mast trees that produce nuts and berries • protect species at risk at all levels: plants, trees, birds, and animals • use techniques to promote less common species that were characteristic of historical forests 10) Unique habitats—site specific features such as ephemeral ponds and wetlands • retain and protect from disturbance small ponds and wet areas in woodlands and any other unique habitats that are not widely available (e.g., stick nests or habitat for species at risk). 64 Guidelines for Forest Management and Maintenance of Forest Bird Diversity

Redwoods —Photo: Jarrid Spicer some features, may be impossible to recreate. Features like a rich organic layer must be left to develop naturally, and can translate into differences in community composition between these managed old-growth forests and the original forest, which a century or two of natural succession has created. Although few fully developed old growth stands remain in private ownership, forest landowners have great flexibility in setting their own management objectives and improving the representation of old growth and older growth features for future generations. Management for old growth may involve control and removal of exotic species, prescribed burning for forest types that require natural disturbance processes for tree regeneration, or designing special harvest plans. Many of the practices used in traditional timber management are also excellent tools for restoring old growth characteristics. You may choose to implement old growth management or restoration, whether it is passive or active, to all or only a portion of your woodlot. When considering where on your land to develop old growth structure, it is most effective to identify and enhance old growth structural characteristics already present in your woods. These areas might include large amounts of downed logs due to a windstorm or a group of large trees containing woodpecker cavities. Considering the quality, or the productive capacity of a site, as determined by the amount of available water and nutrients, will enable you to set realistic targets in terms of developing old growth features. Old growth structure will develop faster on high productivity sites than low productivity sites. Site productivity is measured by the ability of forest soil to support plants, animals, and microorganisms. Overall, by increasing the network of woodlots retaining these features across the landscape, populations of old growth dependent species will be safeguarded within both actively managed and passively managed woodlands. But remember, there is no one specific old growth condition to aim for as an objective and therefore no one way to create it. 3. Maintain forest structure, manage for uneven-aged canopy Uneven-aged management methods like single tree and group selection that promote growth and maintain a diverse canopy structure are preferred over diameter-limit. By creating a mix of small and large canopy openings through logging, you can mimic natural disturbance patterns and increase patchiness across the stand, moving towards the complex vertical and horizontal structure of old growth. Old growth forests are defined as structurally and biologically complex, multi-aged, with a multi-layered canopy and are patchy in appearance. Small canopy gaps created by single tree falls are mixed in with fewer, larger openings created by wind, fire, disease or ice storms that give mid-tolerant and intolerants the chance to become established. Managers can create a more varied forest, typical of old growth, by creating gaps through harvesting. Cutting larger openings, like those used in group selection, can create habitat for species that are gap dependent, and can create patches of early successional habitat used by juvenile birds. The gaps can increase tree diversity by encouraging the growth of mid-tolerant species. Gap openings favour fruit producing trees and shrubs, like blackberry, elderberry, and chokecherry and can be important food sources for birds in the post-breeding period. However, we do not recommend gaps (particularly large gaps greater than 50 m in diameter), in small forest fragments, less than 10 ha in size. Sun shining in on a forest gap created through harvesting — Photo: Lucas Foerster Guidelines for Forest Management and Maintenance of Forest Bird Diversity 65

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